Hope Springs Eternal
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supplement the home visits, families come to the Hope Street
facility, which occupies the bottom two floors of a building adjacent
to the hospital. Monthly parent meetings take place in this spacious,
clean and inviting center. There also is time for parents and children
to play in the classrooms, which are also the setting for Even Start,
a family-literacy project funded by the California Department of
language-enriched focus of Even Start - structured around a "creative
curriculum" in which children learn while they play - complements
Early Head Start's goals and continues to stimulate and develop
those who have graduated from the program.
development, though a primary concern, is not the only need of these
children. "A lot of the families are in very cramped quarters, so
many of the kids are lagging in their gross-motor skills," says
outreach coordinator Annabel Sherk, who has been with Hope Street
since its inception. "For cognition development, often our children
can benefit from a more enriching environment than is available
in their homes."
to the colorful, bright, roomy classrooms boasting smiley yellow
suns painted on the walls, pint-sized furniture, playhouses and
shelves brimming with books and toys, the children get the right
stimulation to jump-start their developing minds and bodies. Says
Martha Sapien, a mother of four: "Edgar, at 4, knows his ABCs and
how to count. Eileen, who's 9 months, learned to crawl here. She
enjoys being with the books and knows how to turn pages. She babbles
when she sees the pictures. My children are all happy to be here."
too, are joyous at the improvements they see in their children.
For some, it is a 180-degree turn from their initial perceptions
of the program. "In the beginning, some parents were wary of us,"
says Lillian Ulloa, an infant-development teacher. "But now, parents
see results. They know we're here to benefit them."
a sense, Hope Street is as much a learning experience for the parents
as for the children. Says Alma Clara, the mother of an 11-month-old:
"We are learning different ways to raise the children, the process
of their development and the reasons for doing certain things with
while the children are learning in Even Start, the parents are themselves
learning English phrases, grammar and sentence construction in an
on-site class, as well as parenting and computer skills.
many of the mothers, previously isolated at home taking care of
their children, this is something of a dream come true that has
provided them with a sense of empowerment and friendship.
we were more shy," says Clara. "Now we're more open. We share. We
communicate more. We talk about and compare our children, but not
in a competitive way. Before, I was just at home, not involved in
anything. Now I don't feel so lonely."
M. Lynn Yonekura, director of perinatal services and executive director
of family-support services at California Hospital: "Helping children
develop means that we also have to help the families develop … to
help the parents achieve everything they want to achieve for themselves
so they can transmit that to their children."
those families in which both parents work full time, Hope Street
offers subsidized child care through its Child Development Center,
located two blocks away. The center is also structured around the
creative curriculum, so development is constantly stimulated.
also are enrichment programs for older, school-age siblings through
the Hope Street Youth Center, which offers after-school academic
and recreational programs. In a community where 89 percent of students
read below grade level, and the average student is more than three
years behind, a mentoring program called HOSTS - staffed by volunteers
from downtown offices, the hospital and, this fall, UCLA - has been
able to increase reading levels by an average of one grade for each
six months of involvement in the program. A Los Angeles Unified
School District continuation, or alternative, high school rounds
out the programs offered on-site by Hope Street.
the kids see this place as their hangout," acknowledges Segovia,
the social-services coordinator. "They play and converse and interact
in a way that's constructive and positive. The youth center offers
a safe haven for young children and serves as an alternative to
Street is one of five community centers in low-income areas partnered
with UCLA under a new initiative called CERC (Community Education
Resource Center), which is part of Chancellor Albert Carnesale's
effort to renew, redefine and reinvigorate the university's public-service
mission and outreach to the community. (The other CERC sites are
The 100 Black Men organization in Inglewood; Projecto Pastoral at
Dolores Mission in East Los Angeles; the Elizabeth Learning Center
in Cudahy; and the Watts Labor Community Action Committee.) At Hope
Street, UCLA has identified pilot activities that include increasing
and varying after-school activities, enhancing tutoring and literacy
programs and designing a comprehensive arts and culture program.